unctuous

play
adjective unc·tu·ous \ ˈəŋ(k)-chə-wəs , -chəs , -shwəs \

Definition of unctuous

1 a :fatty, oily
b :smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2 :plastic
  • fine unctuous clay
3 :full of unction; especially :revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

unctuously

adverb

unctuousness

noun

unctuous was our Word of the Day on 04/18/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of unctuous in a Sentence

  1. an unctuous effort to appear religious to the voters

  2. an unctuous appraisal of the musical talent shown by the boss's daughter

Recent Examples of unctuous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unctuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Is unctuous postivie or negative?

Nowadays, unctuous usually has a negative connotation, but it originated as a term describing a positive act, that of healing. The word comes from the Latin verb unguere ("to anoint"), a root that also gave rise to the words unguent ("a soothing or healing salve") and ointment. The oily nature of ointments may have led to the application of unctuous to describe things marked by an artificial gloss of sentimentality. An unctuous individual may mean well, but his or her insincere earnestness can leave an unwelcome residue with others, much like some ointments.

Origin and Etymology of unctuous

Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus, from Latin unctus act of anointing, from unguere to anoint


UNCTUOUS Defined for English Language Learners

unctuous

play
adjective

Definition of unctuous for English Language Learners

  • —used to describe someone who speaks and behaves in a way that is meant to seem friendly and polite but that is unpleasant because it is obviously not sincere


Medical Dictionary

unctuous

play
adjective unc·tu·ous \ ˈəŋ(k)-chə(-wə)s, ˈəŋ(k)sh-wəs \

medical Definition of unctuous

:rich in oil or fat :fatty
  • an unctuous pharmaceutical preparation


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up unctuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

of yeast or being unsettled or frivolous

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!